Gröna Biblioteket (Green Library)
Organisation : Växtvärket Malmö Ideella , Sweden

The transformation towards a sustainable city has to be bottom-up as much as top down and spaces for transformative learning and experiencing to accelerate this transition are necessary. Gröna Biblioteket (The green library) is a project that brings sustainable solutions to the library, a place people already know and visit. Sustainability literacy skills are spread through workshops, activities, prototypes and collaborations taking place at the library. The project aims to foster and create low-carbon, sufficient communities that collaborate in different ways to make the transformation accessible to a broader peer group, which is essential for a just transition.

EU Green Deal Policy Areas Addressed
BiodiversitySustainable agricultureClean energy
Public spaceFrom Farm to ForkSustainable industry
Pathways followed
  • Involve citizens through participatory implementation
  • Encourage local private and civic engagement
  • Promote social innovation supporting inclusion
  • Nurture a sharing economy
  • Implement sustainable procurement principles
  • Pursue a shift towards a circular economy
  • Accelerate sustainability and innovation through public procurement
Library outdoors during project

The city of Malmö is a pioneer in matters of sustainability and implements innovative ideas to move towards a circular, just and low carbon city. This project adds to the transformation through the library Garaget located in the heart of the area Sofielund. The area has a wide variety of people, businesses and households and Garaget is a place many people visit and use as their local living room. The project creates an access point for the neighbourhood for a broad array of sustainability ideas. The project works to inspire, engage and connect the visitors of Garaget for the different aspects of sustainability in urban areas and raise local citizens green literacy levels. By setting up an experimenting station and participatory platform it allows for transformative educational experiences and motivates participants to engage with the topic of sustainability individually and collectively at Garaget, at home and in their communities.

In Action
During open workshops

Gröna Biblioteket is a subproject in the project Case Sofielund 2030 ongoing between 2019-2021 with funds from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) via the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Tillväxtvärket). The project's overall goal is to develop new, innovative collaboration structures and processes in Sofielund, Malmö, to create sustainable growth and urban development. This is done by channeling the global sustainability goals (Agenda 2030) to the local level. Gröna Biblioteket is thereafter operated through Växtvärket and the Library but is dependent on collaborators and experts such as Cykelköket, Repair Café Malmö, Green Roof Institute, Malmö University, Hållbar Utveckling Skåne and more. 


The project is developed in multiple steps building on top of each other, while continuing to run simultaneous:



1. Build-up: 

a. urban gardening: creating spaces for edible and non edible flora inside garaget; herbs, small fruit trees, climbing plants in all kind of containers and pots to inspire the wide range of urban farming practices (incl. low-tech alternative farming practices such as aquaculture, hydroculture, farmbot, mushroom farming as inspiration)

b. habitat creation: creating spaces for local fauna around garaget, bee hives, bird houses, artificial batcaves, creating a insect meadow on the flat roof

c. expand: creating and/or taking advantage of outdoor gardening spaces, including wild fruit trees around garaget and the parking space behind garaget



2. Education:

a. pre-/ school education: events, workshops, tours and participatory projects with classes at Garaget.

b. green fritids (after school for children and youths): in collaboration with the fritidsledare from Garaget we develop an array of green and sustainable fritids activities

c. visitor education: through signage, written explanations, how-to instructions for take away, social media activities and non-formal personal interactions, inclusion in the building processes

d. community building: non-educational events (harvest fest, collective food sharing, plant + seed swap, eco-art exhibitions, markets), Engaging and attaching children and adults long term through collaborative responsibility (children/adults get their own planters/boxes at Garaget, or take care of specific elements, further possible establishment of volunteer gardener group)

e. librarian education: working together with Garagets librarians to increase their green literacy and increase the quality and amount of sustainability related media

f. adult education: events, workshops, forums, 

g. teacher education: topic specific workshops for curriculum connected sustainability topics ( urban farming, urban sustainability, urban biodiversity)

Planting seeds with children during spring

The project makes the topic sustainable development accessible to the local community. Through the project groups in Sofielund, who are not often encountered by the theme, have come closer to it. 

  • A growing space outside of the library with mainly edible plants and plants for biodiversity and pollinators as well as showing solutions easily made at home such as a simple greenhouse, vermicomposting. This shows and activates the visitors of the library in themes of pollinators, biodiversity, composting, sustainable water management etc. 

  • Prototypes of sustainable solutions, such as hydroponic systems and green roofs, have been presented to the visitors of the library, inviting them to more tech-based solutions that are easy to do yourself. 

  • Accessible information texts and literature advice creates opportunities for increased knowledge. 

  • Through green creative workshops with children, children have been invited to the topic of sustainability. Arousing their interest, leading to them influencing their peers and possibly also their parents. 

  • Practical after work for adults where we learn from each other, test creative solutions part of a green local transition and create broader social networks in our neighbourhood. Increasing interest and knowledge in practical sustainable solutions and improves local social sustainability. 

  • Through workshops and events people learn and are inspired about how they themselves can work with sustainable transformation. Examples of this are repair events where people are engaged to fix their own bike or broken electronics with the help of experts. Encouraging people to take care and repair instead of buying new. 

  • By creating fun and inviting places to be and sit outside the library people have a place to stay, to socialize with others and to encounter with the green solutions built up. 

  • Collaborations with professionals such as researchers and other organisations to broaden knowledge and channel it to visitors of the library.

Through this project a broad variety of people living and working in the area of Sofielund, Malmö will have access to different acces of sustainability transformation. By engaging children, also the families of the children are engaged. 

The expected local impact is that a greater variety of people have come closer to the topic sustainability and sustainable solutions. That the visitors of the library have been introduced to different sustainable solutions such as reuse of material and things, greenifying their local neighbourhood, urban farming in many different ways (hydroponics, small scale, green roof, etc.) and taking care of our pollinators. The expected impact is also to improve social relations and social inclusion through creating networks to other people visiting the library and other people living and working in Sofielund. Also to increase the library as a public space, opening the library up and welcoming people to use the space outside through both activities such as urban farming and through resting, sitting, talking and socializing with others. 

It is difficult to measure soft values such as people's gained knowledge or interest in a subject. We are and will continue keeping statistics of people who join our workshops. We will also do an evaluation together with librarians, the team from Malmö municipality. We will also try to involve the local visitors in the evaluation by welcoming their thoughts and opinions in writing and through talking to them. 

Challenges and lessons learned
Planting with children in the new space efficcient seating

One lesson learned is working with unpredicted events. Due to the pandemic no official events were allowed, iInstead the project had to focus on other ways such as prototyping easy ways to be more sustainable as well as being present outside the library to talk and engage people.

Another lesson learned is the importance of communication, both with the staff at the library, engaging them in the project as well as the people that we want to involve in the local processes. Devoting time to communication is something that should be prioritized and something we constantly are trying to improve. 




ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
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